This is a well written novel of suspense. The plot is expertly crafted and well nuanced, keeping the reader turning the pages. With dialogue that rings true, it makes for a riveting read.
The story revolves around a young woman, Donna Edmunds, who works for an advertising agency. She meets a very handsome man, Victor Cressy, at a company party, and he wines and dines her in dramatic fashion, sweeping her off her feet. Finding him to be a fantastic and attentive lover, as well, he is the man of her dreams. When he proposes two months later, she accepts, thinking that she has died and gone to heaven. What she does not know is that she in on her way to living a hell on earth. You see, Victor Cressy is a sociopath.
At first, the change in Victor and their relationship was imperceptible. It began subtly with a question here, a question there, a suggestion here, a suggestion there. It then escalated to demands that had to be met, assertions of imagined slights, rules that had to be obeyed. Victor separated Donna from her old friends and family, until her isolation was total. It finally culminated in a control so complete that Donna, as a person in her own right, no longer existed. The cycle of extreme and profound psychological abuse had attained its goal. The old Donna was merely a memory, as the new Donna was too afraid to say anything, do anything, or opine on anything. Instead, a Stepford wife with two children had replaced her.
In reality, Donna was a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, an enigma to all who would meet her, asserting herself in bizarre ways which were only a cry for help . One day, Donna meets a man who recognizes her profound despair and treats her as a human being. She begins an affair with him, which enables her to reach deep into herself and come to terms with her life and her marriage. She asks Victor for a divorce and custody of the children.
The court scenes for the ensuing divorce and custody action are wonderfully drawn, as they are the setting for explaining the deterioration of the marriage. The points of truths in their respective accounts are told from different perspectives in a three dimensional, well fleshed narrative that is tautly drawn. One gets a very definite sense of the psychological horror of the marriage and the reason for Donna's almost total annihilation of self.
The divorce is granted, but she retains custody of the children. Donna soon finds out that even though she won, she lost, just as Victor had promised. Five months after the divorce, with the visitation arrangements in place, all had been going smoothly. Victor seemed to have adjusted to the situation and, when they met, treated her with civility. One weekend, he picked up the children, as usual, and admonished them to kiss their mother goodbye. It was not until they failed to return as promised, that she realized the import of his admonishment. Victor had merely lulled her into a false sense of complacency. In reality, her nightmare was far from over and was, in fact, just beginning.